How to list certifications on a resume?
From linking to a detailed PDF to spelling out the certification’s full name, here are 12 answers to the question, “What’s one tip for listing certifications on a resume?”
- Let Certifications Speak for Themselves
- List Certifications in the Education Section
- Create a Visual Representation
- Match Your Certifications to the Company Culture
- Include Dates You Were Certified
- Link to a Detailed PDF
- List in the Correct Order
- First is Best
- Prioritize Quality Over Quantity
- Curtail Certifications to the Job Position
- Catch the Hiring Manager’s Attention
- Spell out the Certification’s Full Name
Let Certifications Speak for Themselves
Keep your certifications concise unless explanation is explicitly needed. For example, most certification titles give a clear idea of what the certification was for and, typically, no more information is required. By adding more information or a thorough explanation of the certification, your resume might read as redundant or needlessly cluttered.
List Certifications in the Education Section
List your certifications in the education section of your resume for optimal organization and readability. People who look at resumes all day expect all degrees and certificates to be within or next to the education section. If you put your certifications at the end or throughout your resume, the reader may have difficulty keeping track of them, especially since many hiring managers are doing a quick scan.
Create a Visual Representation
Adding certifications to a resume is an effective way of distinguishing oneself and standing out from the competition. When listing your certifications, be sure to create a visual representation for them by formatting each one differently on the page. In particular, bold and italicize the font to emphasize and draw attention to relevant credentials. Doing this gives potential employers a clear, immediate view of what certifications you have and determine their importance.
However, be careful not to overstate or exaggerate any given certification; ensuring accuracy and truth in all information displayed on your resume is paramount in establishing a positive impression with any recruiter.
Match Your Certifications to the Company Culture
As an anthropologist, I believe that one key tip for listing certifications on a resume is to consider the cultural fit and values of the organization you’re applying to. When including certifications, it’s important to not only showcase your skills and knowledge, but also demonstrate how they align with the existing values and culture of the organization. For example, if the organization strongly emphasizes sustainability, listing a certification in green technology or renewable energy can demonstrate that you share this value and can bring a unique skill set to the team.
On the other hand, if the organization doesn’t place a high value on sustainability, this certification may not be as relevant and could detract from your overall application. By considering the cultural fit and values of the organization, you can tailor your resume to demonstrate how you align with company culture and increase your chances of being selected for an interview.
Include Dates You Were Certified
One tip for listing certifications on a resume is to include the date you were certified. By doing so, you show potential employers how long you’ve been certified and how much your knowledge has grown since then. Additionally, you can include the type of certification or certification level you achieved. This demonstrates your expertise in the field.
Link to a Detailed PDF
Depending on the industry, professionals may have a long list of certifications to their name. Since it would be impossible to note accreditation and provide the details associated with each one within the resume, the best way to list them is to line up a brief listing and embed a link that leads to another document with all the necessary details.
One option is to create a PDF document and link to that. The PDF should contain all the detailed information ranging from the timeline of the course to the awarded grades and other details. You can even include images where necessary. This way, your resume won’t look too crowded, and you’ll also offer your potential employers the opportunity to go deeper and review your expertise if needed.
Neil Platt, Director, Emerald Home Improvements
List in the Correct Order
When you’re adding certifications to your resume, do so in reverse chronological order. The certification you obtained most recently should be the first one listed. This gives employers the ability to see what’s most timely in terms of your knowledge base and skillset. Having a certification from 1992 isn’t as relevant as one from 2022.
First is Best
Keep your most technical and job-relevant certifications at the top of your resume. Ideally, you’ll want to place them in a stand-alone section, before your job experience. Keep in mind that the person reading your resume will likely be doing a quick scan first to identify your strongest aspects. This makes putting your best certifications on top the best option for making sure that they end up getting noticed.
You may also want to drop any certifications that aren’t entirely relevant to the position, in order to keep your stand-alone section as neat and concise as possible. This should highlight only your most impressive aspects without forcing the reader to memorize any fluff material that won’t be useful to them.
Prioritize Quality Over Quantity
When it comes to listing certifications on your resume, focus on quality over quantity. Don’t just list every certification you have, but instead choose those that are most relevant to the position and will demonstrate your expertise in a specialized field. Showcase how each certification adds value to you as an applicant and why it makes you uniquely qualified for the job.
Curtail Certifications to the Job Position
First, the job seeker should ask themselves whether the certifications they have are relevant to the positions they’re targeting. Because of the limited space a resume provides and the need to keep information to relevant facts only, listing all certifications isn’t recommended. I’d suggest reviewing the basic qualifications section of the job postings of interest to get an idea as to what certifications are required.
For example, reviewing typical engineering job postings may reveal the need for certifications such as engineer-in-training (EIT), six sigma greenbelt (for manufacturing), or project management professional (for project managers). From there, I find the best place to highlight required certifications is in the career highlights/summary section at the top of the resume, which ensures that recruiters will immediately see them.
Catch the Hiring Manager’s Attention
One great tip is to use keywords related to the certification in the job description throughout your resume. This catches the attention of the hiring manager, as they’ll notice the very words they wrote themselves in the job description, and can demonstrate your understanding of the skills and knowledge required for the job. Making smart use of this tactic is a great way to gain the hiring manager’s attention and have your resume stand out among the crowd.
Spell out the Certification’s Full Name
Unless the certification is something that’s well-known or essential for the job (e.g., CPA), you should make sure to spell out the name of the certification. Chances are, the hiring manager reviewing your resume doesn’t know what the acronyms for your certifications stand for.
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